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Social Security Transition Report For The Biden Administration

While important for everyone, Social Security benefits are particularly important to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and others who have suffered discrimination.

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, DonkeyHotey

INTRODUCTION

“Social Security is the bedrock of American retirement. And in my administration, we won’t just protect it. We’ll expand it.”

– Joe Biden

January 20, 2020

President Biden won seniors in part because of his promise to protect and expand Social Security. That promise, along with the goal of delivering first-class service to seniors and others, will be impossible without new leadership at the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indeed, new leadership is a key to restoring Americans’ support for government more generally.

Social Security is the face of the federal government. Nearly every worker in the country—about 178 million workers—contributes to Social Security, generally through highly visible deductions from every single paycheck. One in four households—more than 64 million beneficiaries—receives monthly Social Security benefits in the event of the death, disability, or old age of a worker. It is not merely another government program. It is a benefit earned by working families.

Like the United States Postal Service, Social Security is a beloved institution with which Americans are in constant contact. The series of more than 1200 field offices, like our local post offices, are a part of our communities. Pre-COVID, before the field offices had to be closed to protect public health, they averaged around 175,000 visitors each and every day – over 40 million visits, in 2019 alone. In addition, around 33 million called Social Security’s 800 number.

Americans contact Social Security at times of transition, ones often involving sadness, vulnerability, and stress — when a loved one dies, when someone is confronting a serious disability, or when a worker is approaching retirement after a lifetime of labor.  Children too are protected against loss of household income when working parents die, becomes disabled, or retire. When children grow up and join the workforce, they, in turn, earn these protections for themselves and their families.

While important for everyone, Social Security benefits are particularly important to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and others who have suffered discrimination. President Biden has the opportunity to improve the adequacy of Social Security, as he promised to do in his campaign.

Expanding Social Security, as President Biden promised, is a solution. It is a solution to the nation’s looming retirement income crisis, where too many workers fear that they will never be able to retire without drastic reductions in their standard of living. It is also a solution to the nation’s rising income and wealth inequality, which President Barack Obama called “the defining challenge of our time.” It is a solution to the economic squeeze on working families. Expanding Social Security is also a way to stimulate the economy during today’s hard economic times.

In addition to pushing to expand benefits while restoring Social Security to balance, the Biden administration should take other measures to restore the confidence of the American people in the future of the program. And, the Administration, under new leadership at SSA should restore the world-class service Americans have earned and purchased with their Social Security contributions.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL TRANSITION REPORT

For more information please contact our Communications Director, Linda Benesch at lbenesch@socialsecurityworks.org.

Contents

Introduction

Installing New Leadership At SSA Is Essential

Improving Access And Customer Service During And Post-Covid

Additional Actions To Provide The First-Class Service Americans Have Purchased And Deserve

Expanding Economic Security And Setting A Forward-Looking Research Agenda

Actions To Be Taken By The Biden Administration On Day One And Within The First One Hundred Days

Appendix A: More Detailed Discussion Of Additional Actions For First-Class Service

Appendix B: Specifications Of Potential Expansion Legislation

Appendix C: Reversing Destructive Trump Administration Policies

Appendix D: Forward-Looking SSA Research Agenda to Increase Economc Security

Appendix E: Summary Of Recommendations